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NHS strike action: Junior doctors in England begin five-day walkout threatening further patient disruption | UK News

Patients face further major disruption as junior doctors in England begin a five-day strike in their ongoing pay row with the government.

Tens of thousands of hospital appointments are set to be cancelled or postponed as a result of the latest walkout which began at 7am on Saturday and will stretch until 11.59pm on Wednesday.

It is the 10th stoppage by junior doctors since last March and follows the longest strike in NHS history in January, which lasted six full days.

“The government could have stopped these strikes by simply making a credible pay offer for junior doctors in England to begin reversing the pay cuts they have inflicted upon us for more than a decade,” Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors committee, said.

“The same government could have even accepted our offer to delay this round of strike action to give more space for talks – all we asked for in return was a short extension of our mandate to strike.

“The fact that ministers have chosen strike action over what could have been the end of this year’s pay dispute is disappointing to say the least.”

The BMA also expects its strike mandate to be renewed raising the prospect of further industrial action.

What should I do if I’m ill during the strikes?

If your condition is not “serious or life-threatening”, the NHS is asking people to use pharmacists, GPs, or the NHS 111 service in the first instance.

NHS bosses have repeatedly stressed that you should still call 999 in life-threatening situations.

Non-striking medical staff will continue to provide urgent, emergency, and maternity care to people who need it, with those “with the most pressing health needs” prioritised.

People who attend A&E with less urgent needs “may experience longer waiting times than normal”.

Planned appointments and surgeries may have been cancelled, but if you have not been contacted about a rearrangement you should attend as normal, the NHS says.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “I want to see doctors treating patients, not standing on picket lines.

“In negotiations with the BMA junior doctors committee, we made it clear we were prepared to go further than the pay increase of up to 10.3% that they have already received. They refused to put our offer to their members.

“More than 1.3 million appointments and operations have already been cancelled or rescheduled since industrial action began – five days of further action will compound this.

“The NHS has robust contingency plans in place, and it is vital that people continue to come forward for treatment. But no one should underestimate the impact these strikes have on our NHS.

“So again, I urge the BMA junior doctors committee to call off their strikes and show they are prepared to be reasonable, so that we can come back to the negotiating table to find a fair way forward.”

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Junior doctors have received a pay rise averaging nearly 9% this financial year.

The BMA has been seeking a 35% “pay restoration” as its starting position, but has said it is willing to negotiate.

Junior doctors make up around half of all doctors in the NHS and have anywhere up to eight years’ experience working as a hospital doctor, depending on their specialty, or up to three years in general practice.

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Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, described the latest round of strikes as having “a devastating impact on patients” but said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was refusing to negotiate.

NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said it is “extremely concerning” that strike action and disruption “are becoming a new normal”.

“For the equivalent of more than one in every 10 days last year, the NHS has had to effectively stop carrying out most routine appointments to prioritise emergency care,” he added.

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery said: “We can’t go on like this. Wave after wave of strikes saps the morale of staff and impacts patients.

“Trust leaders want to get on with the job of giving patients first-class care instead of having to spend too much time and energy planning for and coping with weeks of disruptive strikes.”

Second World War bomb that forced thousands to evacuate in Plymouth detonated at sea | UK News

An unexploded bomb from the Second World War which forced thousands to evacuate their homes in Plymouth has been detonated at sea.

Around 30 of the Armed Forces’ most experienced bomb disposal experts led the “highly complex disposal operation” on Friday after the 500kg bomb was discovered on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

Police had been called to a property in St Michael Avenue in the Keyham area of Plymouth after the device was unearthed by a man digging out foundations for an extension to his property.

A 300-metre cordon was then put in place around the site, affecting 1,219 properties and an estimated 3,250 people – making it one of the largest evacuation operations since the end of the Second World War.

Read all of our coverage on the Second World War bomb here

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WW2 bomb found in Plymouth

The device was detonated just before 10pm, the MoD said.

The explosive was discovered in a back garden on, which prompted “one of the largest UK peacetime evacuation operations” according to the MoD.

On Friday, a military convoy towed the unexploded bomb from the home where it was found and through the densely populated residential area to Torpoint Ferry slipway, where it was later detonated.

More than 100 personnel from the British Army and Royal Navy were involved in the operation along with Plymouth City Council officials, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, and Devon and Cornwall Police.

Lt Colonel Rob Swan, who was at the scene, explained before the detonation that the bomb would be taken to a depth of at least 14 metres before a diver would place a donor charge on the bomb to ignite the explosive.

The bomb was discovered in a garden in Keyham, Plymouth by a man digging out foundations for an extension.
The bomb was discovered in a garden in Keyham

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Defence Secretary Grant Shapps praised the “bravery and fortitude” of personnel involved in the “highly complex operation” and the “patience and cooperation” of members of the public.

He said: “I would like to express my thanks to all our personnel involved in this highly complex operation, who worked both night and day this week to keep the public safe and minimise the risk of damage, as well as the public for their patience and cooperation.

“The success of this operation is testament to the level of skill and expertise across our Armed Forces, as well as the bravery and fortitude of our personnel when faced with high-risk situations and working under extreme pressure.”

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans said: “I think it is fair to say that the last few days will go down in history for Plymouth.”

Wiley stripped of MBE after antisemitic social media posts | Ents & Arts News

The rapper Wiley has been stripped of his MBE after he made antisemitic posts on social media.

Often referred to as the ‘Godfather of Grime’, he received the honour for services to music in 2018.

But in 2020 he was banned from X, Facebook and Instagram after a series of posts in which he described Jewish people as “cowards and snakes” and also compared them to the Ku Klux Klan.

Wiley with his MBE in 2018. Pic: PA

Wiley, whose real name is Richard Cowie, told Sky News at the time that he was sorry “for generalising” but refused to distance himself from most of the comments.

An official notice in the London Gazette has now confirmed his MBE will be “cancelled and annulled” for “bringing the honours system into disrepute”.

His honour was one of three withdrawn, with ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells also stripped of her CBE.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), which petitioned for the Wiley move, commended the forfeiture committee for “using its powers to make clear that anti-Jewish racists cannot be role models in our society”.

“Antisemites like Wiley must understand that we will work tirelessly to hold them to account,” it said.

“For four years, we have worked to ensure that Wiley faces ruinous consequences for his unhinged antisemitic tirade, for which he has shown no remorse. Today’s decision is a vindication of that effort.”

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Wiley, 45, was one of the pioneers of the grime scene and has had six top 10 tracks in the UK, including Wearing My Rolex and Heatwave.

In September 2021, he was charged with assault and burglary over an alleged break-in.

He was wanted by police the following year after he failed to show up for a court date related to the case.

In June 2023, he entered guilty pleas at London’s Snaresbrook Crown Court for an assault on an emergency worker and for criminal damage to property valued under £5,000, said the Crown Prosecution Service.

He was given a one-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months for each offence and was also ordered to pay the assault victim £470 in compensation, the CPS added.

Christian B: Madeleine McCann suspect beat rape victim and attacked woman while wearing ski mask, court hears | World News

The prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann raped a woman while wearing a ski mask and beat another rape victim with a whip, a court has heard.

Christian B – whose surname cannot be published due to the country’s privacy laws – faces three counts of rape and two of sexual abuse at his trial in the northern city of Braunschweig.

The 47-year-old German is alleged to have committed the offences in Portugal between 2000 and 2017. The allegations do not relate to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007.

Madeleine McCann. Pic: Handout/ PA
The British youngster went missing in 2007. Pic: Handout/ PA

He is accused of raping and beating a 70 to 80-year-old woman, after entering her bedroom wearing a ski mask. He also allegedly held a cushion over the woman’s face before leaving.

Under another charge, it’s said Christian B allegedly woke up a 20-year-old from Ireland as she slept, before raping her at her flat in Portugal in June 2004. In the same alleged attack, he is accused of gagging the woman and beating her.

Other charges facing Christian B include:

  • Beating and sexually assaulting a girl aged at least 14 sometime between December 2000 and April 2006 at his house in Praia da Luz, Portugal
  • Exposing himself to a 10-year-old German girl at a beach in Salema in the district of Faro in Portugal on 7 April 2007
  • Exposing himself to an 11-year-old Portuguese girl at a playground in Bartolomeu de Messines in Portugal on 11 June 2017

During the hearing, Christian B’s lawyer said the defendant “is using his right to remain silent”.

His defence lawyer said he expects his client to be acquitted, dismissing the evidence as “abysmal”.

There are no formal pleas in the German legal system, and defendants are not obliged to respond to the charges.

Christian B is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old in Praia da Luz, the same town where Madeleine disappeared.

He has not been charged in the McCann case and denies involvement, but has been under investigation for the last few years.

Madeleine was three when she went missing on holiday in Portugal in May 2007.

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16 February: Christian B arrives in court

In May last year, German and Portuguese police searched a nearby reservoir that Christian B used to call his “paradise”.

His trial opened a week ago but was swiftly adjourned on its first day after Mr Fulscher filed a challenge against a lay judge on the panel hearing the case, who was alleged once to have spread a call to kill former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on social media.

Prosecutors supported the challenge.

The woman has been removed from the case and now faces an investigation herself on suspicion of making a public call to commit crimes.

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Friedrich Fuelscher expects his client to be acquitted. Pic: Reuters
Friedrich Fulscher expects his client to be acquitted. Pic: Reuters

The trial is expected to last four months.

James Cleverly says ‘only thing MPs should fear is ballot box’ as he warns against Commons rule changes over ‘intimidation’ | Politics News

The home secretary has warned the Speaker against changing Commons conventions due to intimidation from outside parliament, telling Sky News: “The only thing MPs should fear is the ballot box.”

James Cleverly offered his support to Sir Lindsay Hoyle to stay in post – despite 68 MPs having now signed a no-confidence petition against him after Wednesday’s chaotic scenes in the Commons – calling him “a breath of fresh air”.

But he added: “We should not be changing our procedures in response to threats or intimidation. That would indicate that the threats and the intimidation is working – that is the opposite of the message that we want to send.

“If people think that they can target members of parliament, they are wrong. The full force of the law will be brought down.”

Politics live: Speaker comes out fighting

A huge row erupted on Wednesday as parliament held an opposition day debate over the Israel-Hamas conflict, with the SNP calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Pressure had been mounting on the Labour Party to move away from the government’s position of calling for a pause in fighting to echo the SNP’s stance – and they announced they would put forward their own amendment, calling for a ceasefire, albeit with a number of caveats.

Electoral Dysfunction

Electoral Dysfunction

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Commons conventions say that opposition motions cannot be amended by opposition parties, but Sir Lindsay took the decision to let Labour’s position be debated and voted on, claiming it gave MPs the widest range of positions to discuss and back, and citing the safety of members who were facing threats and intimidation unless they supported calls for a ceasefire.

But his decision was met with rage from the Conservatives, who pulled their own amendment and “played no further part” in the proceedings, and ended with the SNP not even getting to vote on their own motion.

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‘I have a duty of care to protect’

Despite the Speaker making two apologies in the Commons on both Wednesday and Thursday for how his decision had played out, calls for him to resign grew – led by the leader of the SNP, Stephen Flynn, who said his position was now “intolerable”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also criticised Sir Lindsay’s actions, calling them “very concerning”, while former home secretary Suella Braverman wrote an angry piece in the Daily Telegraph, saying it had “undermined the integrity of Parliament” and that “the Islamists, the extremists and the antisemites are in charge now”.

Asked about his position on the Sir Lindsay as the row entered its third day, Mr Cleverly said: “I think the Speaker’s done a fantastic job. I think he’s been a breath of fresh air compared with his predecessor.

“He made a mistake. He apologised for the mistake. My view is that I’m supportive of him.”

But the current home secretary said it would be down to MPs to decide his fate, adding: “The selection of the speaker is House business and for the House of Parliament rather than for government.

“And I know that sounds like we’re dancing on the head of a pin, but in our constitution it’s a very important division. So this is House business for members of parliament, rather than for the government.”

There is no formal way for the Speaker to be removed, but he could choose to resign if calls for him to go continue to grow – as one of his predecessors, Michael Martin, did in 2009.

However, with support from the Labour benches and senior Conservatives, Sir Lindsay could instead decide to fight on to stay on post.

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SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has told Sir Lindsay Hoyle he no longer believes he can continue in his role as Speaker of the House.

The Tories have sought to blame Labour for the shambolic scenes in parliament this week, amplifying reports that party leader Sir Keir Starmer threatened to withdraw support from the Speaker if he did not select their ceasefire amendment.

A Conservative source told Sky News on Friday: “Starmer’s undermined parliament, bullied the speaker into doing something he admitted was “wrong”, and it sadly won’t be long before more antisemitic views emerge from Labour.”

And Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho told reporters: “I think the speaker is a decent man. He’s a really well respected parliamentarian. I didn’t agree with the ruling that he made, but I think the real culprit here is Keir Starmer.

“I think he’s put the speaker in an intolerable position by saying that we should bow to intimidation and external influences. No intimidation should change the way that we vote in parliament or what we vote on.”

But Sir Keir “categorically” denied making any such threat, telling reporters that when he met Sir Lindsay, he “simply urged” him to have “the broadest possible debate” by putting a number of options in front of MPs.

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Sir Keir Starmer has

The Labour leader added: “The tragedy is the SNP walked off the pitch because they wanted to divide the Labour Party and they couldn’t, and the government walked off the pitch because it thought it was going to lose a vote.”

Speaking to Sky News on Friday morning, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper insisted Sir Lindsay was “right” to select Labour’s amendment to the ceasefire vote – which ended up passing – “making sure the widest possible range of views can be debated, sit on and can be voted on, that is something that is good for democracy”.

But she agreed decisions on parliamentary procedure should not be made because of intimidation from outside.

Post Office would stand by prosecution of more than 350 sub-postmasters, boss told minister in letter | UK News

The boss of the Post Office wrote a letter to ministers saying he would stand by the prosecution of more than 350 of the sub-postmasters convicted in the Horizon scandal.

Chief executive Nick Read sent the letter to Justice Secretary Alex Chalk last month, informing him that the Post Office would be “bound to oppose” appeals against at least 369 prosecutions.

The document was dated 9 January – the day before the government announced plans for a new law to exonerate and compensate sub-postmasters who had been wrongly convicted in the Horizon scandal.

Mr Read’s letter was published by the Post Office on Thursday, as the government confirmed it was pressing ahead with the legislation to automatically quash convictions by July.

In response, the government said it would introduce “safeguards” to avoid “anyone who was rightly convicted” attempting to “take advantage” of the compensation scheme.

“Innocent post-masters have suffered an intolerable and unprecedented miscarriage of justice at the hands of the Post Office, which is why we are introducing legislation to swiftly exonerate all those convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal,” a government spokesperson said.

In the letter, Mr Read wrote that the Post Office had conducted an external legal review into prosecutions linked to the Horizon IT system between 1999 and 2015.

Nick Read, the Post Office chief
Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office. Pic: PA

The period saw hundreds of sub-postmasters prosecuted because of discrepancies in the IT system, in what has been called the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history.

Mr Read wrote that the review found that the Post Office was “bound” to oppose appeals against 369 of the roughly 700 prosecutions made in the period of the Horizon scandal because the evidence relied on in these cases was unrelated to the faulty system.

He wrote that a further 11 cases were under review, while there was insufficient evidence to take a decision either way in 132 cases.

“This clearly raises acute political, judicial, and communications challenges against the very significant public and parliamentary pressure for some form of acceleration or by-passing of the normal appeals process,” he wrote.

Attached to Mr Read’s letter was a note by Nick Vamos, the head of business crime at Peters & Peters, the solicitors for the Post Office.

In the note, Mr Vamos wrote that it was “highly likely that the vast majority of people who have not yet appealed were, in fact, guilty as charged and were safely convicted”.

The publication of the letters comes after allegations from the former chairman of the Post Office, Henry Staunton, who claimed there was “no real movement” on payouts to sub-postmasters until after the airing of ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office earlier this year.

British Justice Secretary Alex Chalk leaves Number 10 Downing Street after a Cabinet meeting in London, Britain, December 5, 2023. REUTERS/Hollie Adams
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk. Pic: Reuters

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The claim was denied by the government and sparked a high-profile row between Mr Staunton and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch.

While making the allegations, Mr Staunton revealed the existence of Mr Read’s letter.

The Post Office published the letter and the note on Thursday with a comment which said they were sent to “explain the work that the Post Office had requested its legal counsel, Peters & Peters, undertake to proactively identify, on the papers available, any convictions that could be unsafe”.

“This was primarily to offer the government any support that might assist them as they consider relevant issues in advance of passing legislation, without any value judgement on what the correct course of action might be,” it said in a statement, alongside publishing the letters.

The Post Office also said the note provided by Peters & Peters was “not solicited” by them and was sent to “express the personal views of its author”.

“(The) Post Office was in no way seeking to persuade the government against mass exoneration,” it said.

“We are fully supportive of any steps taken by government to speed up the exoneration of those with wrongful convictions and to provide redress to victims, with the information having been provided to inform that consideration.”

Henry Staunton
Henry Staunton

On Thursday, the government announced it aimed to get the exonerations done “as soon as possible before the summer recess” on 23 July.

Writing to the House of Commons, Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “As noted in my statement on 10 January, the legislation is likely to exonerate a number of people who were, in fact, guilty of a crime.

“The government accepts that this is a price worth paying in order to ensure that many innocent people are exonerated.”

In an attempt to ensure people are truthful in signing up for compensation linked to convictions being overturned, they will have to sign a disclaimer confirming their innocence.

“Any person found to have signed such a statement falsely in order to gain compensation may be guilty of fraud,” Mr Hollinrake added.

An independent public statutory inquiry is ongoing to establish a clear account of the implementation and failings of the Horizon IT system at the Post Office over its lifetime.

Derbyshire: Waste company ordered to pay £68,500 after cyanide leak kills hundreds of fish | UK News

A waste transport company has been ordered to pay £68,500 after hundreds of litres of a liquid containing diluted cyanide leaked from a lorry.

The leak happened after a container was ruptured as the driver began moving it around, using a forklift truck, at an industrial estate in Heanor, Derbyshire.

The liquid escaped onto the floor before entering the drainage system and natural waterways following the spill on 6 February 2018, the Environment Agency (EA) said.

Hundreds of fish in a nearby pool died as a result of the water becoming toxic, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

Fire crews were deployed to set up a decontamination zone and ensure anyone involved was fully washed down, the court heard.

The EA prosecuted waste transport firm J & G Environmental Ltd, based in Fareham, Hampshire, after estimating the clean-up costs reached £50,000.

Officials took samples of the dead fish, with all of the 73 sent for testing found to have died from cyanide poisoning.

On Wednesday, the company was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £52,500 in costs after earlier pleading guilty to causing an illegal water discharge.

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An EA spokesperson said: “We welcome this sentence as this was a serious pollution which caused considerable disruption besides fish deaths.

“The Environment Agency will pursue any company that fails to uphold the law or protect nature and will continue to press for the strongest possible penalties.

“Failure to comply with these legal requirements is a serious offence that can damage the environment and harm human health.”

Just weeks earlier, a truck crash in Brazil saw sulfonic acid spill into a local river, covering it in thick foam and putting dozens of neighbourhoods’ access to drinking water in jeopardy.

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Acid spill in Brazil covers river in thick foam

Emotional Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle says he is ‘guilty of looking after MPs’ facing ‘frightening’ threats | Politics News

An emotional Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he never wants to pick up the phone “to find a friend has been murdered” – as he defended his actions in the Commons on Wednesday.

The Commons Speaker is facing a backlash for allowing a vote on a Labour amendment to an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Politics Live: Starmer ‘categorically’ denies threatening Speaker

Usually there would only be a government amendment to an opposition motion, but Sir Lindsay said he wanted all sides to have a say given the importance of the topic, and the fact MPs are facing increasing levels of abuse over their views on the war.

However some Conservative and SNP MPs have accused Sir Lindsay – a former Labour MP who must be impartial in his current role – of making a “political decision” and said they no longer have confidence in him.

Having already apologised for the chaos that ensued last night Sir Lindsay again said sorry to MPs today.

“I made a mistake – we do make mistakes, I own up to mine,” he said.

But he stressed the safety of MPs was at the forefront of his mind when he made the decision – revealing that he had held meetings with police yesterday about threats posed to MPs.

“I will defend every member in this House. Both sides, I never ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find a friend, whatever side, has been murdered by terrorists.

“I also don’t want an attack on this House.”

Lindsey Hoyle
Lindsay Hoyle appeared emotional as he discussed MPs’ safety

Sir Lindsay said “the details of the things that have been brought to me are absolutely frightening”.

Appearing emotional, he added: “I am guilty because I have a duty of care that I will carry out to protect people. It is the protection that led me to make the wrong decision.”

In an olive branch move, Sir Lindsay offered to grant an emergency debate on the issue of a ceasefire in Gaza.

However the SNP remain unimpressed and have withdrawn their support for Sir Lindsay.

His decision to allow the Labour amendment resulted in the government boycotting the proceedings, so Labour’s motion was passed on the nod and there was no vote on the SNP’s – even though it was their opposition day debate.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said this was a matter of “grave concern”.

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Starmer denies threatening Speaker

However many politicians have jumped to his defence – with some Tories turning the heat on Labour for allegedly putting pressure on Sir Lindsay to select the Opposition party’s amendment.

This is something Sir Keir Starmer has “categorically” denied, saying that he “simply urged” the Commons Speaker to have “the broadest possible debate” by putting a number of options in front of MPs.

The conversation around MPs’ safety returned to the spotlight earlier this month when Tory MP Mike Freer announced he was stepping down at the next election following death threats and an arson attack on his office.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has also told Sky News she “no longer goes out” socially because of threats and abuse and that she was “scared” when confronted by pro-Palestinian supporters.

Former defence minister Tobias Elwood has also warned of a growing trend of protesters going to MPs’ houses after a pro-Palestine demonstration went on for hours outside his home earlier this month.

It all follows the murders in recent years of MPs Jo Cox and Sir David Amess in their constituencies.

Electric van production to secure future of Vauxhall’s Luton plant | Business News

Vauxhall’s parent company has secured the future for its Luton plant but demanded more government aid to help drive the transition to electric vehicles.

Stellantis confirmed on Thursday the Bedfordshire site will produce “limited” volumes of electric vans for five of its group brands from 2025.

They would include the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric, Peugeot E-Expert and Fiat Professional E-Scudo in both right and left-hand drive versions, it said.

The company added Luton, which has produced vans for 92 years, would also continue to manufacture some combustion engine-powered models.

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Business minister Nusrat Ghani welcomed the investment and responded: “This is a further vote of confidence in the UK economy and exciting news that shows our plan for the auto industry is working.”

The announcement by Stellantis follows Nissan‘s confirmation in November last year that it would invest £1.2bn to build two electric car models at its Sunderland plant.

Last summer, Jaguar Land Rover‘s owner revealed plans for a £4bn electric vehicle battery plant in Somerset.

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‘We should be leading’ on EV transition – SMMT

Stellantis, for its part, made its other UK factory at Ellesmere Port the first in the country to go fully electric last year. The site currently produces small vans.

It plans that all the group’s vehicles will be electric-only from 2028.

UK group managing director, Maria Grazia Davino, said: “Whilst this decision demonstrates Stellantis’s confidence in the plant, this… requires the UK government to stimulate more demand in the electric vehicle market and support manufacturers that invest in the UK for a sustainable transition.”

The remarks will be seen as a rebuke over the decision by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last September to delay the ban on the sale of new vehicles powered by petrol and diesel beyond 2030.

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Motorists on petrol vehicle ban delay

The prime minister said he wanted to shield the public from “unacceptable costs” despite acknowledging the urgency around the need for the shift to help tackle the climate crisis emergency.

Electric vehicle sales have been stalling across Europe due to cost of living pressures.

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The auto industry has demanded more aid to support the transition including government subsidies to aid consumer and business purchases and investment in the charging network.

Stellantis did not put a cost on the size of its investment.

Mark Noble, the Luton plant’s director, said of the decision: “Following the transformation of our Ellesmere Port facility to produce all-electric compact vans, I’m pleased to announce that we will commence limited production of our medium electric van in Luton from next year, when the first customer vehicles will roll off the production line.”

Officers should be allowed to ban drug and drink-drivers at the roadside, police chiefs say | UK News

Police chiefs are calling for new powers to allow officers to instantly disqualify drink or drug-drivers at the side of the road.

They say the new powers would allow police to take drivers who pose a risk to others off the road “immediately”.

Currently, drivers charged with drug or drink-driving offences are banned following a sentencing hearing at a magistrates’ court.

But these hearings can take weeks to get to the court, and, until then, drivers are allowed to get back behind the wheel.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing, said: “The ability for us to be able to disqualify people either for drink or drug-driving by the roadside would mean that we can immediately take that risk off the road.

“And those people can’t be behind the wheel, particularly if they’ve blown well over the legal limit.”

Chief Constable of Sussex Police Jo Shiner at Sussex Police Headquarters in Lewes, East Sussex. Pic: PA
Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing. Pic: PA

Under the current system, drivers are checked using a road-side test, which, if positive, is followed by a confirmatory test at a police station.

If that second test comes back positive, they are charged and sent to court.

Force chiefs are currently in early discussions looking at the type of tests that could be used to allow officers to ban people at the roadside.

They are also looking at the legal changes needed to make the move possible.

As well as roadside bans, the NPCC also want tougher punishments for drivers who kill while under the influence, including potential murder charges.

Ms Shiner said: “We should have greater sentencing and far greater sentences, particularly for those people who do kill or seriously injure people on the roads.

“I actually do believe that if someone makes that decision to get behind the wheel, under the influence of drink or drugs, that is a conscious decision they have made to get into a vehicle and therefore to put other people at risk.

“I think we really do need to work hard on making sure that we’re strengthening the sentencing and making sure that we are properly using, where we can, sentencing that is already available to us.”

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The idea of instant disqualification is supported by Ceinwen Briddon, who campaigned for tougher sentences for fatal drivers after her 21-year-old daughter Miriam was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.

Gareth Entwhistle, then 34, was jailed after admitting causing death by undue care while over the prescribed drink-drive limit in 2015.

He served half of a five-year jail term and was banned from driving for five years.

Ms Briddon’s campaigning spurred on a change in the law where those found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving can face a life sentence.

Ms Briddon said: “I would challenge anybody to say to me, how would they feel if they’d killed a person? How would they feel if they’d ruined a family’s life? Could they live with the thought of people hating them, and could they survive a lengthy period in jail?

“I do feel strongly that the length of sentence should reflect the crime.”